Flu season is upon us and already California has recorded three deaths from the flu.
While no deaths have been recorded in San Luis Obispo County, five confirmed cases of the flu have been reported to the County Health Department.
The strain of flu this year is H3N2, which is different from what we saw during the 2018-2019 season but the same virus Australians just experienced.
San Luis Obispo County Deputy Health Officer Rick Rosen said American researchers often look to Australia's flu season when creating new flu vaccines because the southern hemisphere gets the bug first.
Australia just had it's worst flu season on record, with over 272,000 confirmed cases.
That's prompting health officials to urge Americans to vaccinate now.
This year's shot includes four strains of flu virus.
"Among all the vaccines available, it's not among the most effective but even if folks still catch the flu, it's generally less severe if you've had the flu shot," Rosen said. "On a population level, it dramatically decreases the number of people who get sick with flu, decreases number of people hospitalized or in intensive care unit or die from the flu and that's really the main benefit from the flu vaccine."
Rosen said this year's flu shot distribution was delayed from the manufacturer, meaning County employees, first responders, and residents couldn't get their shot from the County Health Department in October as usual.
According to Rosen, the County is now stocked with the vaccine, which is available for $10. The high dose, which is recommended for people age 65 and up, costs $56 dollars.
The flu shot is not immediately effective and can take up to two weeks for the patient to be immunized.